What do you think of when you hear, “Neurosurgeon”? You probably said to yourself “Brain surgeon”. You are partly right. Actually less than half right. Neurosurgeons do operate on the brain and that is their public image. But neurosurgeons spend more than 60% of their time treating spine problems.
Neurosurgeons are medical specialists who diagnose and treat problems in the entire nervous system. That means they treat disorders of the brain, spinal cord and spinal column plus the nerves that travel through all parts of the body such as hands, legs, arms and face. They routinely see patients for low back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, epilepsy, stroke, Parkinson’s disease, sciatica, pinched nerves in the neck, sports injuries, chronic pain and a host of other ailments.
In a statistical study done in the west to see the range of the neurosurgeons’ expertise, it was found that the commonest surgical procedures performed by them was on spine (includes neck and back disorders). This was followed by brain (includes aneurysms, tumors and head injuries), CSF shunting for hydrocephalus, peripheral nerve (includes carpal tunnel syndrome), pain-functional (includes medication pumps and deep brain stimulation) and blood vessel abnormalities (includes strokes). Another important aspect one should not forget is neurosurgeons are not simply surgeons. This is another common misconception about neurosurgeons. Their role in treating disease is far more extensive than performing surgery.
Neurosurgeons often provide or recommend non surgical care. They diagnose what is wrong and work with the patient to develop the optimal treatment plan. For example, most cases of back pain are treated with anti inflammatory medication, physical therapy and muscle relaxants. A common treatment a generation ago, surgery is now considered necessary for only a small percentage of back pain patients.
Some of the specific disorders of the brain, spine and nerves commonly treated by neurosurgeons include
Neurosurgeons are well prepared to deal with a variety of complex cases. They have one of the toughest training programs in the medical curriculum. The difficult training is necessary because of the complexity o f the nervous system. During the training period the neurosurgeons are exposed to some of the most sophisticated techniques in medicine. Few medical specialties come close to neurosurgery in terms of technological advances. Neurosurgeons use three dimensional brain imaging, stereotaxy, gamma knife, operating microscope, endoscopy and other cutting edge techniques to treat patients.
Each day is a bonus. It is neither a right nor a natural consequence, unless the all powerful Almighty decides so. Things can go totally haywire in a matter of seconds
MARTIN JOHNSONRead More
I am a software engineer based in Hyderabad. I hail from Kerala. I had a cervical disc prolapsed and was advised to undergo surgery at Hyderabad